Tag Archives: fragilité pédagogique

NEW BOOK: Pedagogic Frailty and Resilience in the University


New Book


Frailty & Resilience front cover




Robert Hoffman

Chapter 1        

Mapping the terrain of pedagogic frailty.                                               

Ian Kinchin

Chapter 2        

Framed autoethnography and pedagogic frailty: A comparative analysis of mediated concept maps

Christopher Wiley & Jo Franklin

Chapter 3        

3Rs of pedagogic frailty: Risk, Reward & Resilience.

Naomi Winstone

Chapter 4        

Semantic waves and pedagogic frailty

Margaret Blackie

Chapter 5        

‘Teaching Excellence’ in the context of frailty

Jacqueline Stevenson, Pauline Whelan & Penny Jane Burke.

Chapter 6        

The role of values in higher education: The fluctuations of pedagogic frailty.

Simon Lygo-Baker

Chapter 7        

Integrative disciplinary concepts: The case of Psychological Literacy.

Naomi Winstone & Julie Hulme

Chapter 8        

Re-framing Academic Staff Development

Jo-Anne Vorster & Lynn Quinn

Chapter 9                    

Trajectories of pedagogic change: Learning and non-learning among faculty engaged in professional development projects

Linor Hadar & David Brody

Chapter 10       

Pedagogic frailty and the research-teaching nexus.

Anesa Hosein

Chapter 11       

Breaking down student-staff barriers: Moving towards pedagogic flexibility

Catherine Bovill                                                                                                    

Chapter 12       

Academic Leadership.

Sandra Jones   

Chapter 13       

Enhancing quality to address frailty

Ray Land

Chapter 14       

Profiling pedagogic frailty using concept maps.

Paulo Correia & Joana Aguiar                                                                                                                                     

Chapter 15      

Pedagogic frailty: opportunities and challenges.

Ian Kinchin & Naomi Winstone


 Available from:  http://tinyurl.com/ly8y439



International Symposium on Pedagogic Frailty and Resilience – Registration now open.

Registration is now open for the 1st International Symposium on Pedagogic Frailty and Resilience at 

The University of Surrey – 6th September 2017.

For further information and access to the registration link:


The programme will include the following presentations:

“The Origins and Potential of Pedagogic Frailty”
Prof. Ian Kinchin, University of Surrey, UK.

“Safe Spaces or Strange Places?  Pedagogic Frailty and the Quality of Learning in Higher Education”
Prof. Ray Land, University of Durham, UK.

“Bend or Break? Dimensions of Intrapersonal and Organisational Resilience”
Dr. Naomi Winstone, University of Surrey, UK.

“Do No Harm: Risk Aversion versus Risk Management in the context of Pedagogic Frailty”
Dr. Julie Hulme, Keele University, UK.

“Profiling Pedagogic Frailty”
Prof. Paulo Correia, University of São Paulo, Brazil.

“Developing Online Resources to Support the Exploration of Pedagogic Frailty”
Miss Irina Niculescu, University of Surrey, UK.





Student evaluation of teaching: are we reaching for the wrong type of excellence?

Over twenty years ago Carr (1994: 49) wrote:

 ‘It is a shallow and false view of education and teaching which takes it to be a matter of the technical transmission of pre-packaged knowledge and skills in the context of efficient management’

However, it seems that this false view is still able obscure a more contemporary and research-informed views of teaching. The on-going drive for ‘teaching excellence’ still seems to focus on actions of the teacher that promote Carr’s ‘shallow view’. That is not to say that the student voice is not important, but we need to ensure that students are asked the right questions so that we do not promote student passivity as learners and do not subvert the student voice for purely political ends.

Fitzgerald et al (2002) wrote, ‘I value student perspectives in thinking about my practice. However, the institutional instrument designed to assess student perspectives focuses on a form of practice that ill fits my own values. Each semester students have been asked to rate the course and instructor on a nineteen-item rating scale. Many of the items are consistent with a teacher-directed pedagogy and linear information-processing model of learning (for example, Objectives are Clear, The Instructor Enhanced Knowledge of Subject, Organised Class Sessions Well, Demonstrates Knowledge of the Subject). When I first came to Uni, I was intimidated by these student evaluations because I believed them to be overly focused on clear objectives and a class structure predicated on teacher control of the classroom. These survey items do not adequately capture what I hope to accomplish in the classroom, and I correctly anticipated receiving mixed review on this measure. Students may desire and need clearly presented knowledge, attained in a highly structured teacher-directed context, but educational opportunities are impoverished if this is the only form of pedagogy provided. A rather monovocal assessment tool inscribes a particular vision of education, and fails to provide useful feedback to educators who teach in alternative ways. This narrow representation of education limits our vision of what ‘good’ education might be, and privileges a particular mode of learning.’

So are we still promoting ‘monovocal assessment tools’ ? If so why? Many commentators ask why those who purportedly revere the power of critical thinking go on to employ simplistic, quantitative tools to ‘measure’ teaching quality. Clearly, in the UK, the Government’s agenda to assess teaching is pushing things along with a single purpose in mind. Katzner (2012) has asserted that in their quest to describe, analyze, understand, know, and make decisions, western societies have accepted the myth of synonymy between objective science and measurement. He comments that what we cannot measure gets demoted as ‘less important’. If it has been measured, it must be ‘scientific’ and ‘rigorous’ – especially if we can apply statistical analysis that the common man/woman will not understand.

So we go from monovocal to monocular (possibly also myopic). A system in which ‘ideas diversity’ and ‘methodological variation’ (typically seen as indicators of health for an academic community) are apparently no longer valued. We then end up with a ‘hard core’ set of unquestioned statements and assumptions that are not supported by evidence. The result is that we have an academic community that will survive by ‘maintaining their autonomy and academic freedom through demonstrating symbolic compliance or pragmatic behaviour’ (Teelken, 2012: 287). This could result in innovative teaching being driven underground, like a resistance movement – a situation that is likely to promote pedagogic frailty (Kinchin, et al, 2016). An outcome that is the opposite of that intended. Fitzgerald et al (2002) talked about values as the underpinning concept that drives things forwards with any meaning. I wonder if the explication of values (particularly shared values, rather than any spurious mission statement placed on a web site) by universities will form part of the TEF, which will inform teaching evaluations in the UK over the coming years. Or is teaching supposed to be ‘values-free’ in the modern era? I didn’t get that memo.



Carr, D. (1994) Educational enquiry and professional knowledge: Towards a Copernican revolution. Educational Studies, 20(1): 33 – 54.


Fitzgerald, L.M., Farstad, J.E. & Deemer, D. (2002) What gets ‘mythed’ in the student evaluations of their teacher education professors? In: Loughran, J. and Russell, T. (Eds.) Improving teacher education practices through self-study. London, Routledge/Falmer (pp. 203-214).


Katzner, D. W. (2012). Unmeasured information and the methodology of social scientific inquiry. Springer Science & Business Media.


Kinchin, I.M., Alpay, E., Curtis, K., Franklin, J., Rivers, C. and Winstone, N.E. (2016) Charting the elements of pedagogic frailty. Educational Research, 58(1): 1 – 23.


Teelken, C. (2012) Compliance or pragmatism: how do academics deal with managerialism in higher education? A comparative study in three countries. Studies in Higher Education, 37(3): 271 – 290.


Are you already researching pedagogic frailty?

The concept of pedagogic frailty ( see earlier post: https://profkinchinblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/20/pedagogic-frailty-a-new-lens-to-examine-university-teaching/ ) consists of a number of dimensions that are directly related to established fields of research in higher education. As a result, you may already be involved in research that informs the development of the model. If you are engaged in research that looks at values, academic identity, academic leadership, teaching quality, the research-teaching nexus, authenticity or academic resilience then your work will resonate with studies into pedagogic frailty. If you are investigating the application of concept mapping (and in particular the development of excellent maps) then again your work will be of relevance here as concept maps have been instrumental in the visualisation of the model.


PDF: Pedagogic Frailty relations: frailty-relations

The value of pedagogic frailty is that it helps to bring these elements into simultaneous focus so that the dynamic relationships between these ideas can be better understood in the ways that they interact to influence the development of pedagogy.

In a special issue of “Knowledge Management & E-Learning” we are hoping to bring together some of the international research that can help to inform development of the concept and to interrogate the model. A call for papers in a previous post ( https://wordpress.com/post/profkinchinblog.wordpress.com/593 ) is still open (until March 2017), and I would be interested in hearing from anyone who is considering a submission.


CMC 2016 Tallinn, Estonia

Congratulations to the organisers of the Concept Mapping Conference in Tallinn for an excellent event.



Street view of Tallinn

I attach the slides from my presentation:

The mapping of pedagogic frailty: A concept in which connectedness is everything“:



Click here for: PDF: cmc-2016-pedagogic-frailty-concept-maps

Access to paper at: http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-45501-3_18?no-access=true

International Symposium on Pedagogic Frailty & Resilience – First Announcement

An international symposium on pedagogic frailty & resilience will be held

at Surrey University on Wednesday 6th September 2017:

AnnouncementISPFR1 call


Programme updates will be announced at:  http://www.surrey.ac.uk/dhe/cpd/pedagogic-frailty-resilience/index.htm


Why do we need to consider pedagogic frailty?

For some colleagues, the idea of pedagogic frailty (see post on 20th January 2016) provides a challenging concept. Why focus on what’s wrong (frailty) rather than what’s right (e.g. excellence, resilience etc.)? A good question, and I certainly do not hold the copyright to the correct answer to this. However, I feel there are a number of good reasons to explain why a consideration of pedagogic frailty can be helpful:

  • After talking with various colleagues across the disciplines, the idea of frailty appears to resonate. As I am not using the term to refer to an individual’s characteristics, but with reference to the quality of connections across the wider ‘teaching system’, it has not been perceived by them to be a threatening term.
  • The clinical analogy from which I have drawn heavily provides a starting point that colleagues can relate to. Everyone has either been ill, or knows someone who has, and recognises that the clinical professions are dedicated to promoting health rather than illness. Nonetheless, medicine knows more about disease than it does about health. This is the focus of medical studies. In order to promote health, you need to understand the indicators of illness and the consequences of inappropriate treatment.
  • The promotion of a manageable level of discomfort may be seen as a way of developing new perspectives to move forward. Challenging cherished beliefs about teaching may encourage colleagues to re-evaluate their practice and consider new approaches to existing problems. That does not necessarily mean that change is inevitable. If a consideration of practice confirms that an existing approach is still the best within a given context, then we have an evidence base to argue for maintaining the status quo, and not just say ‘we’ve always done it this way’.
  • Teaching at universities is not homogenous. The diversity of disciplines and personal approaches to classroom practice is a strength of the system. Reason (2000: 770) comments that in high reliability organisations “it is recognised that human variability in the shape of compensations and adaptations to changing events represents one of the system’s most important safeguards. Reliability is ‘a dynamic non-event’. It is dynamic because safety is preserved by timely human adjustments; it is a non-event because successful outcomes rarely call attention to themselves”. Teachers are always adapting to changing events and good teaching often goes unnoticed. I would not advocate teaching all becoming the same, but it may be helpful to have a shared view that underpins teaching; seen as a shared ‘mindfulness’ by Wieck et al. (1999), and shared values by Barnes (2014). The visualisation of pedagogy within the frailty model helps in the sharing process and works towards the development of resilience.
  • Reason et al. (2001) make an observation about organizations pursuing the ‘wrong kind of excellence’ when managers adopt a myopic focus on numbers and manipulating specific indicators without appreciating their limitations’. According to these authors, the blinkered concentration of isolated elements of the overall system does not readily lead to detection of subtle interactions in the system that could end up as adverse events. The consideration of pedagogic frailty specifically focusses on the interactions between elements of the system and may be considered a tool to address the dominance of non-learning (Kinchin et al. 2008).

I have no doubt that the emergent model of pedagogic frailty will evolve as it is subject to critical review. I’d be interested in your thoughts.


Barnes, J.M. (2014) Interdisciplinary, praxis-focussed auto-ethnography: Using autobiography and the values discussion to build capacity in teachers. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 1(5): 160 – 182.

Kinchin, I.M., Lygo-Baker, S. & Hay, D.B. (2008) Universities as centres of non-learning. Studies in Higher Education, 33(1): 89 – 103.

Reason, J. (2000) Human error: models and management. British Medical Journal, 320: 768 – 770.

Reason, J.T., Carthey, J. & de Leval, M.R. (2001) Diagnosing “vulnerable system syndrome”: an essential prerequisite to effective risk management. Quality in Health Care, 10 (Suppl. II): ii21 – ii25.

Weick, K.E., Sutcliffe, K.M. & Obstfeld, D. (1999) Organizing for high reliability: Processes of collective mindfulness. In: Sutton, R.S. & Staw, B.M. (Eds.) Research in Organizational Behaviour, Volume 1. (pp. 81 – 123) Stanford, Jai Press.